Marcus Center celebrates 50 years in Milwaukee community

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Marcus Center celebrates 50 years in Milwaukee community

The venue is home to the production of Broadway musicals, and provides space for rental for meetings, weddings and other events. Photo courtesy of Molly Sommerhalder.

The venue is home to the production of Broadway musicals, and provides space for rental for meetings, weddings and other events. Photo courtesy of Molly Sommerhalder.

The venue is home to the production of Broadway musicals, and provides space for rental for meetings, weddings and other events. Photo courtesy of Molly Sommerhalder.

The venue is home to the production of Broadway musicals, and provides space for rental for meetings, weddings and other events. Photo courtesy of Molly Sommerhalder.

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In the basement of the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, one could find rooms with vanities stretching wall-to-wall and dressing rooms with extensive costume histories. All the way in the fourth-floor executive offices, there are some of the best views of downtown Milwaukee and walls decorated from floor to ceiling with cast members’ signatures from years of shows.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the theater’s opening, the Marcus Center hosted free open house tours Sept. 17, marking the first time that all of these spaces were open to the public. The public got a closer look at a facility rich with 50 years of history, and this is just the beginning of what the Marcus Center has to offer this year.

The Marcus Center for the Performing Arts first opened its doors Sept. 17, 1979, hosting everything from large production Broadway musicals to smaller stage community events. The theater will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a variety of events and celebrations in addition to hosting a diverse lineup of Broadway shows, including three recent winners of the Tony Award for Best Musical from 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively: “Hamilton,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” and “The Band’s Visit.”

Heidi Lofy, the Marcus Center’s vice president of experience and engagement, said the theater continues to pride itself on its connection to the community and wants to make sure the programming reflects the interests and talent of Milwaukee specifically.

“We’re really trying to have this building really represent the community and we really do believe and take to heart that this is Milwaukee’s community art center,” she said.

There is a specific option for students to get involved at the theater. Student rush tickets are available for most shows. If a student shows up to the box office on the day of a show, he/she can pay $25 for any seat remaining for that night’s performance.

Jordan Tellock, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, has been a development intern at the Marcus Center for approximately a year, working on community and corporate outreach and donor initiatives for the theater. She said she is excited that there will be more student-centered opportunities to be able to attend the theater.

“I know lots of people on campus are interested in musicals — I don’t know necessarily if a lot of people are aware of (student rush), but we try to do our best to get the news out to everyone,” Tellock said.

Hunter D’Acquisto, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences, said he is an avid fan of musicals and has been to the Marcus Center numerous times. He said he has very positive reviews of not only the theater itself, but the staff and the shows brought to the stage.

“It’s a staple theater here in Milwaukee. Being able to go to the theater and seeing shows here brings that art focus into Milwaukee that we so desperately need,” D’Acquisto said. “A lot of the musicals and shows they have give you another perspective in life, … which is totally part of the Marquette mission in, like, ‘(being) the difference.’”

There are plenty more events to come to celebrate 50 years of the facility. An interactive timeline of the history of the facility is in the making for the public to view the significant events in its 50-year history. The Marcus Center’s next event is a block party Oct. 30 from 4-7 p.m. in conjunction with a performance of Hamilton at 7:30 pm. Water Street will close to accommodate the block party, and all of the event’s proceeds will go to benefit the Marcus Center’s inclusive arts education programming initiatives.

For a full list of shows and times for the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts’ 50th season and updates on events and programming, visit MarcusCenter.org or follow the Marcus Center on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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